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This is a very personal message, so please bare with me.

2019 was a tough year

This is a very personal message, so please bare with me. I’m not going to lie, 2019 a tough year in my business and at one point I thought I was going to have to sell and get out. I even had an evaluation from my accountant, a proposal document designed and a number of NDA’s signed by prospective buyers. But it didn’t feel right and thank goodness I got the help I did when I did.

To make a long story short I was diagnosed with burnout and adrenal fatigue. I’m not talking about the burnout people say they have after a tough week. I’m talking about medically diagnosed burnout where you are not able to physically function properly anymore. Where my days felt like I was wading through concrete with a massive fog over my brain. Where making decisions would literally leave me breathless and I felt as though I was never quite getting everything done and falling behind with each passing day. Added to this I had a business betrayal that shook me to my core. I felt as though I had been sucker punched in the stomach and stabbed in the back all at the same time. I started to withdraw. I couldn’t sleep. I started vomiting at work from stress. I was a mess.

However I found support through a local business owner, Jo Muirhead from PurpleCo. She has worked with (far too) many people who have experienced burnout. I went on her 12 week program and it literally saved my life and my business. We worked out that my spiral to rock bottom had actually started 4 years prior to my diagnosis. This meant that my recovery would take at least 2 years from the time I implemented significant changes. Through a series of exercises we determined that it wasn’t WRD that was creating the paralysing stress – it was the website building, hosting, maintaining and dealing with developers. So instead of selling the entire business, I only sold the website side of the business. The weight off my shoulders the day it sold was physical. The difference to my team was palpable. And my healing could begin…


I’m all good now

Please know that I am very much better now (this is me in Cairns over the weekend). I have a much healthier relationship with work and I understand my body better. I know when I’m taking on too much and I give myself permission not to say ‘yes’ to everything. I feel that it’s important to talk more about burnout and how to get help. My door is always open if you are struggling and would like someone to talk to and find out whether what you are going through is similar to what I went through.

DebbieO tough year
Ellie WRD tough year

Welcome Ellie!

Ellie joined us at the beginning of 2019 as our Graphic Designer. She was the first of our team to move over to the new contractor model as we had just been through a challenging situation with a past staff member. This didn’t prevent Ellie from becoming a valuable member of our team who worked very closely with Debbie and helped design some amazing brands.

WRD new website launched

WRD website tough year

“We love rebuilding our website” – said no one ever! But when you do, it becomes quite a song and dance! Within the first week of being back after our Christmas break we launched our new website. One the site you can check out our portfolio and even discover your very own Brand Personality!


Doing more of what we love

Debbie got to do a lot more of what she loved this year (a strategic move). Consulting on branding was high on her list of priorities and a move towards her burnout recovery.

Debbie consulted to the management at Cafe 2773 on branding, which was then followed with a presentation on branding and brand culture.

This is the face of someone who LOVES the topic of branding!

Debbie delivered her keynote on “How to create a brand with personality” to a highly engaged and motivated audience at the Dance Studio Owners Association’s conference. Attendees came from all across Australia and Asia Pacific for this Darling Harbour event.

We had a packed room at Debbie’s Keynote Presentation on how to build a brand your customers will fall in love with.

Taking time out of their busy day proved to be time well spent! Attendees of this presentation buzzed with excitement at what they can do themselves to develop and enhance their brand without spending thousands of dollars.

WRd tough year

Forever grateful for these ladies

Another personal message: After the 12 week burnout course, I got Jo Muirhead in to share with my team more about burnout to help them understand what I was going through. This was the best decision I have ever made. The kindness and compassion I received from them was overwhelming. I would not have got through the year without their unwavering support and loyalty. They were on board with all of the changes we made – and there were many. Thank you Clare, Rienna and Ellie, from the bottom of my heart.


Unsolicited advice #17

Burnout is real. It is a state of complete mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion and is caused by prolonged levels of chronic stress and pressure resulting in overwhelm, brain fog, exhaustion, loss of motivation, cynicism, a sense of failure or self-doubt – just to name a few. The challenge is to identify that you are experiencing burnout before it becomes disabling. Because once you are caught in the downward spiral of the whirlpool, it is very hard to see the wood from the trees. Reach out to family and friends for help and of course, talk to your doctor. Don’t ignore the signs.




On 1 September 2019 we sold the website side of the business. This was a massive relief to everyone! It meant that an incredibly stressful part of the business was no longer going to take up our time. We could now make space to work on projects we enjoyed doing, and it meant that Debbie could slow down and start to recover.

2018 tough year

West Wyalong exchange

We hosted West Wyalong Year 10 student Rebecca who was in Penrith as part of a Rotary exchange.

This young lady is amazing! She planned, designed, printed, cut, laid out and glued down an entire story board of The Creative Fringejourney that will be her legacy for all to see and enjoy!

‘Made by Me’ christmas

WRD Christmas party spent being creative – of course! The beautiful Rebecca from Made by Me, taught us how to macrame, followed by an Italian lunch with Secret Santa gifts! What a day and what a way to end 2019!

Written by our Creative Director & Branding Specialist Debbie O'Connor - Consultant, Strategist, Keynote Speaker

Published: Feb 15th, 2023